Tips on Motivating Your Child to Learn a Minority Language


I have mentioned on several occasions that our family is multilingual. My husband speaks 5 languages. I speak fluently 3. Our children are growing up trilingual as well.

I will admit, though, that it hasn’t been easy for me  to maintain our minority language – Russian – in the family. I don’t follow OPOL, I switch languages. I am also not the most consistent when it comes to speaking Russian to my children.

Actually, I was quite consistent till my older 2 turned 2. Then, they just chose English as their main language as it is the language in our home, and most of our friends speak English, too.

I have many times felt guilt of not being more persistent with teaching them Russian. Until one day, my oldest, who went through a stage between 3 and 4 absolutely despising speaking Russian to showing high interest in it and picking up more and more. And even asking me to teach her in a more formal way!

And then, my 3 year old, who is still refusing to speak Russian, suddenly started reciting Russian alphabet and numbers 1-10. Which happened due to her always enjoying playing with a so-called computer – an interactive toy we brought back from our last trip in 2015, that allows you to listen to the letters and words associated with them; and has some matching and guessing games. So, she learned the alphabet and she can recognise the letters in a complete random order!

All of this made me think that unconsciously I have been actually helping my children become interested in their mother tongue, which has become the minority language.

And so, I tried several things that have since been motivating for all 3 kids (with the youngest still using more English but understanding and replying in Russian when asked to).

So, here are the tips that motivate my children to learn their minority language:

1. Having books in this language at home and actually reading them to your children. In our home we encourage reading in general and our kids love books. They often ask me to read something for them.

2. Showing them cartoons in this minority language. Something so simple like Masha And the Bear (in relation to Russian), where there aren’t many words but they are quite repetitive. Kids love it and the learn the words and phrases, and what meaning they are  associated with. At least once a week when they asked to watch TV I give them a condition that it should be a Russian cartoon. They can take it, or leave it. In our case it is a 100% success.

3. Meeting other people who speaks this language and having a conversation in front of the kids. It can be a real conversation or a Skype call with your family. Let’s face it: kids are curious! They always listen on the background what you are talking about. They may not seem to be paying attention, but they are playing and learning. And at some point they WILL ask you what you were taking about and you can encourage them to learn the language.

4. Playing with other children who speak this language. This is not always possible depending on where you live. But grab any opportunity! Kids learn from each other.

5. Using technology: online learning programs, apps and more. All of this in combination and in moderation raises awareness, promotes motivation to learn this language.

6. If possible and affordable – sign them up for special classes. My oldest is not having fun learning Chinese characters. So we signed her up for a special calligraphy class where she is enjoying painting and writing the characters more than ever.

7. Visiting countries that speak this language is very beneficial, too. It can also be a virtual trio!

8. Avoiding pushing. No, it doesn’t mean not to try speaking to your child in this language. It simply means if they child is feeling very strong and is refusing – do not punish him/her, do not get frustrated, or discouraged. Revisit it again.

I hope these tips are helpful. Please share your own!

ABC Cards Games For Tots


Today is the second day of Fun Ways of Playing with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer.

Today we are sharing about storebrought items that we can utilise and my category is tots!

I will introduce a few games that can be played with tots with ABC cards. They are simple and engaging and help developing fine and gross motor skills and language. These games are also great when emphasising a minority or a second/ third language.


Note: go very slow with tots. Use not more than 1 or 2 cards at a time.
Avoid baby language – tots need to hear to say words clearly. You can emphasize your articulation and repeat your requests and letters several times.

“Pick Up the Card”


Place a card on the floor and ask your tot to pick it up. E.g. “Pick up R for me please!” Praise and repeat!

“Give Me the Card”


Ask your tot to give the card to you: ” Please give me R!” Praise and repeat.

“Where Is the Card?”
Show the letter card to your tot and then hide it behind your back and ask: “Where is R?” Look around with your tot, flash the end of the card from behind your back – encourage him to look for it.
Note: tots might be reluctant to give the card back to you. Give them time to play with the card, don’t push it.

“Swat the Card”
Using a sweater or a soft stick, ask the tot to swat the card: “Swat R!” Encourage and praise.

These are very simple games that any tot at any stage would like. Once they are able to repeat them, encourage them to say the letter with you!

Please stop by the Landing Page for Storebought Ideas to see what other bloggers shared!

Creative Tuesday: Reviewing Alphabet

Welcome to Creative Tuesday! On Tuesdays I will be trying my best to post some simple craft activities for you to make with your children/students.
Today’s Creative Tuesday is dedicated to learning more than craft. I try to implement my crafting skills in my ESL classes. So I make various activities for children from “scratch”.
I would like to show you today how to review the alphabet with the children. It is a simple a fun way to do it!
What you need:
Squares or circles of alphabet letters (upper and lower cases)
A line from either crafting ribbon or a thread, tied to 2 chairs
Enough clothes pegs
How to do it:
1. Put upper cases of letters in one pile and lower cases into another. Put the pegs in the middle.
2. Call a letter and invite the child to find the upper case and the lower case of it (we call them “big” and “little”; sometimes – “mommy” and “baby”).
3. Once they found the matches, invite them to peg the letters up to the line. Continue until you run out of letters. Repeat this activity if necessary.
For younger children you can make 2 sets of upper cases (when they are interested in the alphabet and are still learning the letters).
Hope you enjoyed this activity! How do you review the alphabet at home?

Creative Tuesdays: Fun with Alphabet

We have missed yet another Tuesday in favour of the awesome ABCs series. Little Artists were in the category of Creativity. Stop by the landing page on This Ready Mama’s blog and visit other blogs for more ideas!

Today Creative Tuesdays post  is about having fun with the alphabet!

We always look for creative ways to introduce learning to our children. As a mother and educator I research other blogs and online collections, go over the books and simply try to create something exciting for my daughter and my students.

The following activity is not new in its core principle. I took what already existed and applied to ABCs learning.

You will need:

Upcycling material (any carton box or even plastic box)




Contact paper

Draw an alphabet letter, cut it out. Spread glue all over and stick pieces of cotton over. Take contact paper and stick on both sides of the letter, cut the extra. You get a lovely letter and with contact paper it is even waterproof!

Contact paper is marker friendly so colouring and cleaning the surface of the letters over and over is fun!